It was an exciting day in the fall of 2016 when The Hub on Smith received notice that they and the Sheridan community were one of 11 recipients for a three-year federal grant from the Administration for Community Living. The journey began October 1, 2016 as the team began to create the work plan to expand and significantly strengthen Sheridan County’s dementia capability for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers by improving awareness, early diagnosis, access to services and improved quality of care.

The grant period is ending September 30, 2019. However, The Hub has applied for a no-cost extension to take the project to April 1, 2020 to allow the team to build sustainability for all of the initiatives and to begin to disseminate successful programs with communities throughout Wyoming.

A statewide meeting inviting organizations and professionals supporting persons living with dementia and their care partners will be held October 17-18, 2019 at the Holiday Inn in Sheridan. The Hub on Smith is joining with the University of Wyoming Center on Aging in Laramie, Wyoming Dementia Care in Casper, and Wyoming Association of Senior
Project Directors to showcase the Dementia Friendly Wyoming initiatives as well as other dementia projects in Laramie, Casper and statewide. Senior Centers from around the state will be present to learn more about building person-centered, relationship-based supports and services for person living with dementia. The long-term goal is to create a dementia capable Wyoming. The following briefly outlines the successes with each initiative and plans to sustain these programs in Sheridan through The Hub.

Dementia awareness and education for all of the sectors in the community, including general business, financial, legal, faith and first responders has been provided to over 800 individuals in 80 organizations. Volunteers and staff are continuing to provide educational opportunities to help everyone understand what dementia is and how it affects people and change the way people think, act and talk about dementia. The Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors is coordinating efforts to build community awareness through the senior center network. The grant extension will give us time to solidify Sheridan’s efforts to continue this important educational component.

The Support Center, developed to assist caregivers and persons living with dementia, has now transitioned to The Hub. Jamie Hoeft, Support Care Coordinator, is overseeing the development of a comprehensive one-point access point within The Hub that creates a person-centered experience to ensure that needs are met. People are either referred for ongoing support and consultation for care partners or to Amanda Lawson for ongoing support for persons living alone. The Support Center coordinates ongoing support when needed and makes referrals to other Hub services as well as services throughout the community.

Heather Comstock, Dementia Care Educator, is continuing to provide Positive Approach to Care workshops for professional and family care partners. Through a number of certifications, including Positive Approach to Care training, coaching, consultation and engagement, Validation, Virtual Dementia Tour, Opening Minds through Art, Heather is now creating streamlined education for all of the departments at The Hub and engagement for persons living with dementia at Day Break and other venues. Over the next year, a marketing plan will be developed to offer a menu of educational components to other Senior Centers, home health agencies, faith communities and hospital staff around the state.

Healthcare education for health care providers and care coordinators has been provided to staff at Sheridan Memorial Hospital stressing the importance of early detection, the barriers and benefits, use of a screening tool and referrals for further diagnosis, and the importance of creating a care plan connecting to services in the community. Sheridan Memorial Hospital Internal Medicine is partnering to make referrals to The Hub Support Center for care coordination, especially when a diagnosis is made. A three-module video training for care coordinators is being created and will be shared with hospitals statewide to provide ongoing training.

The Intellectual Development Disabilities and Dementia Education has been delivered to staff at RENEW, Easter Seals, Medicaid Waiver Case Managers, and other statewide organizations by Jamie Hoeft. The goal of the training is to provide greater access to periodic screening, early and accurate diagnosis and more support as the disease progresses. The Hub will support the work of the Center on Aging in Laramie to assure additional statewide training.

The Friendly Visitor program is highly successful! Ten active volunteer visitors are making weekly visits to persons living with dementia, providing socialization, and transportation to essential errands and appointments. This program is currently being transitioned to The Hub and will be overseen by Terri Hayden, Director of Volunteers.

Thanks to the statewide Leadership Council that met over the last three years to oversee and support the progress of the project. The Making A Difference Team provided local support for the staff and involved Carmen Rideout, Amy Albrecht, Dr. Sy Thickman, and Stella Montano.